5/28, Three Fuzzy Heads

One last bit of hawkwatching on Memorial Day Monday, a visit to the Cathedral after checking the Highbridge hawk nest. Finally get the elusive the three-nestling-heads photo.

Monday, cont'd

7:14 p.m. - One red-tail nestling visible in the Cathedral nest as I walk down 113th St. Looks like another might be active on the other side of the nest. No adult in view.

7:16 - Two nestlings visible flanking St. Andrew.

St. Andrew and the Nestlings

the one on the left is curious about me.

Curious Red-Tail Nestling

7:17 - Ah, Isolde is watching over the kids from a distance. She's perched on an antenna at 301 West 110th.

7:18 - The south-side nestling is trying to figure out how the wings work.

Cathedral Red-Tail Nestling

not quite flapping yet.

Cathedral Red-Tail Nestling

7:19 - But she's getting "the stare" down.

Cathedral Red-Tail Nestling

One more wing stretch.

Cathedral Red-Tail Nestling

7:20 - Just as I turn my attention away from the nest for a moment, Isolde flies into it, using the south entrance.

7:22 - Can't see much from this side. Walk back up to the corner.

7:24 - Just one nestling's back in view, and occasionally Isolde peeking ovber the top of St. Andrew.

7:27 - As I'm moving to another vantage point, Isolde quietly exits the nest. Just one nestling in view, and her back at that.

7:28 - The other two nesltings are perking up. One's head is bobbing about on the left side, and I can see feathers of the third on the right.

7:29 - And finally all three nestling heads come into view.

Three Cathedral Red-Tail Nestlings

Not the cleanest shot in the world, but most undoubtedly three little hawk heads.

7:30 - Even as right-side nestling is poking her head a little further, left-sider is ducking down.

7:32 - So if Isolde left the nest where did she go? Well, there's a hawk perched almost directly above me on the ornamental urn on the corner of the roof at St. Luke's. But no, that's papa Tristan.

Tristan atop the Hospital

And Isolde is perched 20 feet above him on the chimney.

Isolde atop the Hospital

7:40 - Kids have settled down in the nest. Not too deep as feathers are visible over the edge of the nest.

7:42 - And sometimes they look up and around a bit.

Cathedral Red-Tail Nestlings

7:48 - Just a little wing flapping as someone crawls over the top of someone else.

Sunset on the Cathedral Window 7:56 - Except for that bit of flapping, pretty quiet for the last 15-20 minutes. Time to exit.

8:01 - But just one last stop to appreciate the sunset view over on Amsterdam.

Posted 5/31/2007 12:10:00 AM by Robert

5/28, Highbridge Hawk Peekaboo

The Cathedral isn't the only red-tail nest in Manhattan with three hawklings. I thought I'd check on the other over the Memorial Day weekend, and finally got to it on Monday.


5:30 p.m. - Arrive at the corner of 190th St. and Amsterdam. Walk along the upper park path down toward the dog run and observe (1) the park is really crowded today, and (2) the foliage in the park is really leafed out. Arriving at dog run, it look like there's absolutely no freaking way I'd be able to spot the Highbridge hawk nest through the trees. So back to 190th St. and down into steep part of the park.

5:40 - Have reached the appropriate area on the slope-side park paths and am having miserable luck trying to spot the nest. But hey, it looks like there's a mountain bike trail parallel to the paved path, so it will be easier to poke around than I thought.

5:45 - Hmmm, a bunch of pigeon feathers on the bike trail. A good sign.

5:48 - Finally. I spot the clump of sticks and twigs 50-60 feet up and 20-30 feet to the side.

5:49 - First glimpse of a nestling.

Highbridge Red-tail Nestling

5:55 - Been wondering back and forth trying to find a better angle, and the nestling has been watching me do so.

Highbridge Red-tail Nestling

It's been a game of peekaboo along the trail, but I think she's winning.

Highbridge Red-tail Nestling

6:00 - There's been some movement from one of the other nestlings in the nest, but I'm not going to get a clear shot of her unless I can find another camera angle. The present spot basically allows for just playing peekaboo with one nestling at a time.

6:12 - After doing a complete circuit through the underbrush, finally find a good spot right on the bike trail itself. Now a clear view of two nestlings, one standing up "on guard" and the other sitting down and perhaps preening. But no sign of the third.

6:14 - They both check me out.

Highbridge Red-tail Nestlings

The one on the right seems to have shed most of the baby fuzz from her head and is likely to fledge sooner. The first Highbridge hatch was likely around April 20, so there could be fledge by the end of this week.

6:16 - First and last sighting of one of the Highbridge adult red-tails is a quick glimpse of one of them soaring over the nest, from east to west.

6:17 - The on-guard nestling has a lot more dark feathers in her breast that the Cathedral nestlings did last year or apparently this year.

Highbridge Red-tail Nestlings

6:25 - Back on the paved path, I finally find a spot where the nest is somewhat visible.

Highbridge Red-tail Nestling

Again, visibility works two ways.

Highbridge Red-tail Nestling

6:28 - Exit. Time to go to the Cathedral.

Posted 5/28/2007 10:23:00 PM by Robert

5/27, Yes, There are Three

Still trying for that elusive picture which shows three little hawk heads in the nest at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine.


5:20 p.m. - Walking across Morningside Park from the corner of Manhattan Ave. and 110th St. there's no sign of an adult hawk perched up the hill on the roof of St. John's or St. Luke's.

5:25 - Now at the corner of 113th and Morningside Drive. One of the red-tail nestlings is up and about, but back turned toward the street.

Red-Tail Nestling

5:26 - Nestling turns around. Preens.

5:29 - Mama Isolde puts in an appearance, having quietly arrived and perched on Gabriel's horn sometime in the last few minutes.

5:35 - One kid visible on south side of nest watching over Morningside Drive. Now that the nestlings are bigger, it seems a regular thing to find one of them on this side of the nest.

Red-Tail Nestling

5:38 - Now two of them visible from the south side.

Red-Tail Nestlings

5:46 - Quieting down. Just one nestling visible on south side, and it's sitting down.

5:52 - Back around the corner. One of the nestlings is standing on the edge of the nest, but back side out. Its head is cocked at an angle like it's checking out the third nestling presumably hunkered down in the alcove at the rear right of the nest.

6:06 - Just been two nestlings visible off and on the last ten minutes. One on the left/south side of the nest, and one in the middle.

Now one of them gets back up on the edge of the nest and looks out.

Red-Tail Nestling

6:10 - Whoa. Definitely three nestlings visible now. One is standing up in the middle, although back now to the street. The second's head is peeking over St. Andrew, and the mixed down and feathers of the third's back are visible in the lower right.

Red-Tail Nestlings

One might think the third is just another trick of the shadows in that alcove, but the previous pic shows that that corner looks entirely different when the stone is exposed.

6:11 - Yes. Nestling #1 still standing up in the middle, preening; #2 just barely visible in the left; and one or both of #3's eyes is peeking out from the right rear alcove.

Red-Tail Nestlings

I wonder if #3 is the youngest, and being smaller ends up getting shoved into the constricted corner of the nest.

6:17 - Quieted down again. Just one nestling head and another's back visible.

6:25 - Just as I'm thinking about leaving for family dinner, Isolde drops off Gabriel's horn and alights on the north side of the nest.

6:27 - Feeing in progress. It's beginning to look like dinner these days is Isolde tearing up the food, and then the kids snatching pieces off.

6:28 - Nestling at left has a big hunk of food, with dark fur or feathers, and is trying to swallow the chunk whole.

Red-Tail Feeding

6:29 - Wow, I think she did it.

6:33 - Still feeding. There might stll be some beak-to-beak hand-offs going on.

6:37 - Isolde still at the nest, but looking around while one or two of the nestlings is bent over dinner in the middle.

Red-Tail Feeding

6:38 - Gotta go.

Posted 5/28/2007 09:50:00 PM by Robert

5/25, Are There Really Three?

Two hours trying for better evidence of three nestlings at the Cathedral hawk nest, like perhaps a picture of three heads all looking around at once.


Beautiful day, albeit a bit warm.

5:26 p.m. - Arrive at Cathedral hawk nest corner. One of the kids is visible, but has her back to me.

5:28 - Nestling still has back to me, but another one's has popped up at the left side of the nest.

5-28 DSC_0005.JPG

Belatedly realize that there is an adult hawk sitting just 10-12 feet directly above the kids, on one of the crenellations of the turret over St. Andrew. Later will determine that this is Isolde.

Three Hawks

5:29 - The nestling who has been on the left has stepped up on the north edge of the nest. Nice dark wing feathers and tawny breast, but white fuzzy pantaloons on her legs.

5-29 DSC_0015.JPG

5:35 - Nestling is still standing there. Apparently nestling eyesight focus is working well, as she's watching me as I try to get a pic from around the corner on Morningside Drive.

Red-Tail Nestling

5:36 - Standing nestling steps back into nest.

5:43 - First sight this season of a nestling looking out the left/south side of the nest. Seems to be the same one who had been standing up a few minutes ago.

Red-Tail Nestling

5:51 - Walk back around the corner to find that an adult has perched on the right side of the nest. Isolde's still on the crenellation, so it looks like Tristan is here.

5:52 - A nestling is standing up twoard the right rear of the nest.

5:53 - Nestling sits back down, and it looks like Tristan is feeding her.

5:57 - Tristan is looking around, and on each side of him two nestlings are visible, their attention focused on something between them.

5-57 DSC_0121.JPG

Tristan exits. Looks like he heads west, but I get no further glimpse of him.

Tristan Exits

5:58 - Still just nestling heads visible, plus Isolde up on the crenellation.

6:00 - Right-side nestling now standing up on the nest edge. She doesn't have the tawny breast coloring, and generally looks a bit fuzzier and younger than the one who was standing up a half hour ago.

Red-Tail Nestling

6:03 - Two nestlings standing so that they are looking out of the to the north, although one is more on the left side of the nest.

Red-Tail Nestlings

6:08 - Two nestlings still standing. Something in front of the closer nestling, somthing perhaps on the edge of the nest, is bugging me because it looks like it has a yellow bird foot, and maybe it has feathers? But then I can't see it anymore. What's left of a pigeon? But their feet are red.

Red-Tail Mama and Nestlings

6:11 - Only one nestling visible now, and she's only half standing.

6:19 - Although standing where I can watch the nest, I belatedly discover Tristan perched on the right side of the transept arch. Was he there when I briefly checked the nave buttresses 7-8 minutes ago?

6-19 DSC_0214.JPG

6:23 - Isolde is standing up. Is she thinking about going for a stroll? Yes. She flies northwest (?) and disappears in the direction of Amsterdam and 113th St. Pigeons on the west end of the roof St. Luke's burst n the air, but all come back to their perches within 15-20 seconds.

Isolde in Flight

6:29 - One of the nestlings is standing up again, but tail end out. And then back into the nest.

6:31 - A nestling standing up again and looking around.

Red-Tail Nestling

6:32 - Flapping.

6:44 - After I'd check the Morningside Drive side of things again, an adult again appears quietly on the north side of the nest. Looks like Isolde this time.

6:50 - Isolde has spent most of the time just looking around. Perhaps she's letting the kids feed themselves.

7:00 - Isolde still perched in the same spot. One nestling's head is visible peeking over the top of St. Andrew.

Isolde and Nestling

7:01 - And a nestling has stepped up on the edge of the nest alongside mama.

Isolde and Nestling

7:04 - Mama and nestling still side-by-side, nestling looking out at street scene, mama preening her own back.

7:07 - Nestling steps back into nest.

7:10 - Summer solstice is approaching. There is now light coming down 113th St. and lighting up the west side of statues.

7:12 - Isolde stll at nest, sometimes looking like she's cleaning up, or eating, or feeding a nestling. The younger nestling visible sitting up in right rear of nest.

Isolde and Nestling

7:26 - Isolde still at nest, but no nestlings visible in last 8-9 minutes. Exit west. Tristan's been gone from the transept for at least 20 minutes, and there's no sign of him along the nave.

Isolde in Nest

And no luck this particular today getting a better pic of three nestlings at one time. (But don't worry.)

Posted 5/28/2007 03:38:00 AM by Robert

5/22, Cathedral Nestlings Count to Three


Nice day but breezy.

5:50 p.m. - First hawk sign is Isolde perched on Gabriel's horn. No activity at the nest; the kids must be napping.

Isolde and Gabriel

5:51 - Belatedly discover that Tristan is perched on a buttress on the transept, perhaps 215 feet from Isolde (according to Google Earth).

Tristan on the Cathedral Transept

5:57 - After checking dust on the camera lens, I look up to find Tristan is in the air and flying past the nest. He circles about a couple times over Morningside Drive to gain some height, then apparently flies off to the south or southeast.

6:18 - Bruce Yolton arrives to take pix, too.

Nothing's happened for 20 minutes. Isolde is still on Gabriel's horn, and the kids are quiet in the nest.

6:43 - It's been quiet up at the nest so I've walked down to 110th St. and then into Morningside Park. About 150 feet south of the pond a black-crowned night heron comes flying my direction. It flies overhead, then circles about over the baseball diamonds several times.

6:44 - Heron flies off to the west.

6:48 - From near the north end of the park pond, it is evident (using the new binoculars I got a couple weeks ago) that someone with pale feathers is moving about in the nest up at the Cathedral. My first thought is that it's one of the kids awake and moving about.

6:52 - Back up to Morningside Drive. The pale feathers are Tristan's fore side. He seems to be feeding the nestlings a light snack. (Isolde's still up on Gabriel's horn.)

Tristan Feeds the Kids

6:56 - Why is it a light snack? Because Tristan is leaving the nest.

Tristan Exits the Nest

Tristan Exits the Nest

6:57 - Nestlings are remaining active. Very active. While I was trying to figure out where Tristan flew off to the north (lost him; drat), one of the kids has stepped up on the edge of the nest, looked around, and according to Bruce flapped her wings like Super Eyass. Tawny feathers are beginning to appear on her breast and lots of brown feathers peeking through on the wings.

Red-Tail Nestling

6:58 - She turns around. Her back is very dark already. She steps to the side and the other nestling can be seen looking at her.

Red-Tail Nestlings

One nestling standing on the edge of the nest. Another to the right looking out. What's that white bump between them?

Red-Tail Nestlings

6:59 - The brave little nestling has stepped back into the nest. Also, Isolde has disappeared from Gabriel's horn.

Whoa, loads of nestling wing flapping from the left side of the nest, behind St. Andrew's head. And the second nestling on the right is watching. And the... hey, a third nestling? There is a large bump of dark feathers in between that looks like a nestling's back.

Red-Tail Nestlings

Yes, the dark feathers in the middle are the nestling who a moment ago was out on the edge of the nest. The flapping is coming from a third nestling!

Woo-hoo! Three nestlings!

(Note: Bruce actually said at this point that he thought there were three nestlings I had to wait until getting my pix on the computer before I decided to agree with him.).

Flapping only lasted a few seconds, but I can see a beaked little head peeking over St. Andrew's stoney pate.

Oops, more flapping. But this looks more like "pardon me while I crawl over the top of you" flapping rather than actual wing stretching.

Red-Tail Nestlings

7:01 - Nestlings are still moving about, but the flapping bit seems to be done with. Two are visible and seem to be focusing their attention on something in the middle of the nest.

7:02 - Movement appears to be settling down; just the nestling at right still in the same spot and looking around.

Red-Tail Nestlings

Ah-ha. Isolde didn't fly away. She just moved down to a finial where she can probably see into the nest. Perhaps the ruckus a couple minutes ago got her attention.

Isolde on a Finial

7:05 - Still some movement in the nest. The nestling that was at right has moved to the middle, as the wing feathers of the baby now visible are not very visible, compared to the two that were flapping earlier.

Red-Tail Nestling

Now the nestlings have switched and one with more developed wing feathers is sitting up in the middle.

Red-Tail Nestling

7:06 - The visible nestling is preening.

7:09 - Almost quiet in the nest now. A couple glimpses of the tippy-tops of little heads, but they're no longer sitting up where they can see out.

7:12 - All quiet. All we can see now is Isolde perched on the finial.

7:15 - Well, we can see Tristan too, once one looks the right direction. I spot him perched on one the buttresses at the east end of the nave (i.e., just west of the transept), where we've seen him a few times before.

Tristan Perches on a Buttress

7:17 - Exeunt hawkwatchers.

Posted 5/22/2007 11:18:00 PM by Robert